CRN president and chief executive officer, Steve Mister, who gave testimony at the meeting, told NutraIngredients-USA the dietary supplements industry had a good story to tell, despite some mainstream media outlets focusing on negative aspects of the 2.5 hour hearing.
These included low-level contamination of supplements and misleading information being passed to consumers in some retail outlets by staff as well as on-product claims – the partial findings of a mostly positive Government Accountability Office (GAO) report presented at the meeting.
“There are bad actors in any industry but it was encouraging to hear Dr Joshua Sharfstein [FDA deputy commissioner] state that there was no safety issue with the industry, along with the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency].”
He said the communication of industry’s efforts to self-police in conjunction with DSHEA (the Dietary Supplements and Health Education Act) were well received.
Mister said Sharfstein mentioned utilizing criminal law against officers of companies that breached DSHEA and other regulations that could lead to prison sentences.
“We were proud to hear Sharfstein acknowledge the fundamental nature of DSHEA and proud to hear the FDA say they understand the balance between risk and product availability.”
Sharfstein acknowledged the FDA requires further funding boosts to continue increased policing efforts begun under the Obama administration.
Other speakers at the Senate hearing are Greg Kutz, the head of the Government Accountability Office Forensic Audits and Special Investigations; Dr Tod Cooperman, the president of third party product testing agency, ConsumerLab.com; and Charles Bell, programs director at Consumers Union.
The five major trade groups have been in alliance on these issues and Mister’s speech Wednesday was signed by all of them - the others being the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA); the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA); the Natural Products Association (NPA); and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA).
In regard to the GAO report that found trace elements of mercury, cadmium and arsenic in a percentage of a small sample of supplements, AHPA president, Michael McGuffin said:
“The area of trace elements in dietary supplements is one to which AHPA has dedicated time and attention. AHPA is pleased manufacturers of all tested products appear to be aware of the ways good agriculture and manufacturing practices can minimize the level of trace amounts of these naturally-occurring metals in their products.”
On claims policing he said: “In the past, FDA has taken enforcement action against companies making the kinds of claims noted in the GAO report. AHPA has long supported active enforcement of DSHEA and is always pleased to see FDA exercise its enforcement authority when warranted.”